Retractable Christianity

So Nathan and Amy (the people I’m staying with while I’m working in Cambridge) have recently got two kittens. It’s amazing. My heart is currently in the process of melting due to the unceasing onslaught of extreme cuteness. Quite a nice way to go, all things considered.

Thing is, these little bundles of fur aren’t all warmth, comfort and suspicious damp patches on the settee. No, these kittens have a business end, in the form of 20 miniature knives attached to their heart-warmingly oversized paws… and they haven’t quite grasped how to retract them yet. Ouch.

And sometimes (cue surprise reveal that kittens were not, in fact, the main topic of the post, but merely a clever metaphorical segway into the deep stuff) this is sort of how I like to treat Christianity. Most of the time it’s a warm, reassuring bundle of hope and joy, but on the odd occasion, if I’m really pushed, I’ll get the claws out and actually live like Jesus.

The problem, though, is that last bit. Living like Jesus, is hard. How do you sum it up? He poured himself out in love for everyone around him. His heart broke with compassion when he saw people like ‘sheep without a shepherd’. He spent his whole life getting alongside the lowest in society, imploring folk to repent, healing, praying, teaching, crying, and ultimately dying for a world that completely rejected him.

If I’m honest, a big part of myself can’t be bothered to live like that. Too much effort. Too much heartache.

See, I like being comfortable. I like just thinking about going to work, getting home, watching TV, wash rinse repeat, with a perfect family, house, and town thrown in. Sounds like an all right way to live. Sure, I’ll pay lip service, and maybe have brief stints of ‘love like Jesus loved’ action, but in the end, I just don’t want to give my whole life to it. The Bible calls this pride, me wanting to rule me, and I’ve got it in bucket-loads.

And yet, when I read the Bible, when I see hopelessness first hand, when I speak to people who have seen the depths of abject poverty, when I consider what faces people who don’t know Jesus, and when I actually look at Jesus himself, I know the way I’ve got to live. It’s obvious. I may like to think true Christianity is retractable, but it’s not. I know it’s not. You don’t turn it off. Jesus is Lord of your life, or he’s not. There is no middle ground.

But the consequences of this are huge. Like I said, every day is a battle against what I want to do and what I know needs to be done. My heart is changed, but the rest of me is putting up a hell of a fight…

Please, Father, change me from the inside out. Bring my desires in line with yours. Let me look at the world like Jesus did, not shutting out the uncomfortable bits, but completely, totally living for you and for others. I know that’s the right way to live, with you in control, but so often I try to wrestle control back, directing my gaze inward instead of to a world that needs you. I need you, Father, to give me humility and faith, to count myself as nothing and you as everything. Thank you for your love, thank you for Jesus. Please use me however you want, to make him known to a world that needs him, and let everything I do back up the gospel, confirming it by living out your amazing love to people who desperately need it.

And, through his strength and for his glory, I need to start acting like I want this prayer to be answered.

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